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Just saw Snake Davis' DVD, concerns about dynamics

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Hi everyone!
I'm wonder if anyone who has watched Snake Davis's dvd, "How To Make It Sing" could comment about dynamics? I also hope I got the terminology correct, dynamics should refer to loudness, is that right? e.g. ppp, f?

Well in Mr Davis' DVD, he does an exercise that basically pushes air into the mouthpiece, not making a sound then gradually increasing the strength of the support, or so I understand it, till the reed slowly vibrates, from soft to loud, and back to soft again.

I seem to only be able to make the sound "happen" at a somewhat loud level, almost like an on/off switch. I can't get the sound to be soft, unless I actually apply some pressure on the reed with my lower lip. Doing this also tends to... dampen the sound? Would love some thoughts on this!

Btw, my setup is: Hanson SA5, Vandoren AL4, BG Lig, Hemke #2. I've tried harder reeds like Rico royal 2.5, not much difference and I tire in *minutes*.

Thanks!

Alvin
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Haven't seen it, but it sounds useful. I can only get quieter sounds by tightening up on the reed, otherwise it dies as I drop the airflow. Sounds like a good exercise to me, helps you learn to control those quieter notes better - and will probably make them a lot easier to get as you do the exercise more.
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,933
Hi Gallen,

These things just come in time.
Your chosen gear doesn't sound like its getting in the way.

I think that practising long notes through out the whole horn will give you a good base and improve your control. Then revisit the DVD.

BTW
Long notes are extremely rewarding for your tone.
 

tommy

Member
Messages
54
Hi there .I got a book call Technique Doctor it will help with your embouchure you will be able to get it on ebay.hope this helps
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Personally (and I stress that this is just my own experience: I haven't been at this very long) the key to playing quietly has been to make sure the sides of the mouth are gripping the mouthpiece securely. That means the top and bottom lip pressure can be fairly relaxed (and therefore not choking the vibrations of the reed) without leaking air from the sides. I find my self forgetting to do this while I'm working on other things, and whenever I become conscious of it again my whole sound improves instantly, especially If I'm trying to play quietly.
 
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groovyb

New Member
Messages
4
Hi, I bought that DVD at a Snake gig in December ... still haven't watched it yet though ... will get back to ya whence I have Alvin :)
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Thanks everyone!
I experimented with BigMartin's advice with gripping the side tightly, it didn't seem to work with my hemke #2 reeds, but I thought I'd try that on a different reed - and went to a plasticover 2.5, and that seemed to help immensely with my high A B C's intonation, as well as allowing the notes to start of softer in the lower register. No help with low C D E F but low G I was somewhat able to get it to sound soft. The odd thing is, if I tongue the note, I can get most of the notes to play softly, just that if I did this excercise, I can't get them to work.

Time to do more exercises for my chops :D Thanks all!

Alvin
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Gallen, One thing that helps is to have your brain ahead of your blowing. You need to hear the note in your head before you play it, this tunes you from belly, diaphragm, throat, tongue and embouchure as well as fingers, to play the note correctly. It also helps to start somewhere you're comfortable and go one step at a time. And the rigth breath support must be there before you play the note. My problem is often that I do all this, but my fingers are a note behind, so there's a terrible sound/failure.
 
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thehunt

Member
Messages
785
Hi Alvin, just saw your thread. I have this DVD and have watched it quite a few times. Last year it was one of my main priorities to get a good sound. I felt that as could get around the sax quite proficiently but when i listened to better players than myself, That meant most players! What was apparent was their tonality. It could be smooth, boppy otr rocky etc but there was always solidity to their sound. For me that was more important than doing fiddly chromatic runs and overtones. ( although i am working on those as well now )
I feel i have improved in that department and i would suggest that you do breath exercises and strengthen up your diaphragm. I very nearly always start with that particular exercise, from no breath to fff then down again, but i vary it with no breath up to ppp, holding it then back down again. If you can support your breath by concentrating on your diaphragm, it will start to come. I am by no means an expert, but now find when i have to play lower notes, say a low B or Bb at p or even pp, it can be done. I too ocasionally blast the note out, you maybe need a softer reed, not harder as they are more helpful in the upper register. It is of course a jorney to find teh right reed mouthpiece combination, which always changes when you change your MP and/or reed. Keep persevering and let us know how you get on. Hope this helps Phil :welldone
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Hi!
@Kev: Thanks for the suggestion. I'll be sure to try it next time I practice!

@Phil: Thanks for sharing your experience! I truly think my breath support (among many aspects of playing) is quite weak. I've googled it and came up with our very own Pete's techniques. What are your excercises? I've got to give them a go...

Alvin
 

thehunt

Member
Messages
785
Hi Alvin, i generally use some breathing exercises that i used to do when i trained in martial arts. That is inhale through the nose but feel your belly filling, dont just fill the chest, hold for 10 seconds then release as a slow stream through your mouth.
Also during the course of the day conciously tighten up your diaphragm and tense it, well it's more tighten your abdominals as though you were about to receive a punch, then release. You can do this even if you are walking along the road.
A good old favorite which you will find many advocating and that i also use is play long notes. Pete has a good section on this on his sax pages, play against a wall so you can hear your sound more clearly. But really think about the sound. I know some of this can sound pretty boring but it does not take long to do and by incorporating it into your playing/practice regime will just become second nature.
I'm sure other members have their own tips and advice to give, try what works best for you. Good luck Phil
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi there!

I tried the exercise which was a great success - able to play breathily quiet, and had a lot of control from ppp upwards - I am sure that my playing brass has much to do with it. Snake is a Welshman for those who don't know - must see him when he is at the local Jazz Club down the road.

Kind regards
Tom
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Hi Tom! Glad it works for you! May I ask, if you have had to apply some pressure from your lower lip to allow the softer notes to play?

Would love to see Snake live, really enjoyed his CDs, going to get another one next payday :)

Regards,
Alvin
 

c9off

Senior Member
Messages
604
Hi Tom! Glad it works for you! May I ask, if you have had to apply some pressure from your lower lip to allow the softer notes to play?

Would love to see Snake live, really enjoyed his CDs, going to get another one next payday :)

Regards,
Alvin
I've seen him at Pizza Express - maidstone - very cosy & great atmosphere, sure you have already seen but he plays there again May 27th, book early they always sell out! Thereafter a couple of nights in Pizza Express - London 1st & 2nd June.
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
I've seen him at Pizza Express - maidstone - very cosy & great atmosphere, sure you have already seen but he plays there again May 27th, book early they always sell out! Thereafter a couple of nights in Pizza Express - London 1st & 2nd June.
Ah thanks for the heads up! I'll be suire to keep those days free :)

Cheers!

Alvin
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Alvin!

Good question. I just had a quick go - using a size 8 tenor mouthpiece/V16 2.5 reeds - what I observed was that my lower lip is very taut but was applying very little, if any pressure to the reed/mouthpiece. I would say that it is probably my trombone and trumpet routines that has given me the capacity to be very firm but without having to apply pressure to the mouthpiece, hence a very quiet sound is possible.

Kind regards
Tom
 
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